When things go wrong — spectacularly wrong in the case of Stoke City, who were relegated from the Premier League on Saturday — one question, above all others, is inevitable: “Where did it all go wrong?”
Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, who left the bet365 Stadium field in tears, was asked this very question following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, sealing the Potters’ place in the Championship next season, and he had some thoughts.
The 25-year-old prospective England no. 1, who will almost certainly leave Stoke for a PL club in the summer, held back very little in criticizing the club’s transfer and recruitment processes over the course of the last few seasons, and in turn essentially calling out his own teammates as not good enough for the club and the PL — quotes from Sky Sports:
“I think the whole recruitment process needs looking at. There have been transfers that aren’t even part of the squad for all kinds of reasons, whether it be discipline, whether it be lack of performance.
“You’ve got to look at that — what decisions are being made and the type of characters. Look at [January arrivals] Badou [Ndiaye] and Moritz Bauer — two positive signings. But you look at others and they’re not even here to have an input.”
“It’s not because they were playing at the top of their game, because if they were they’d be here.
“Too many of the recent investments and over the years are completely unused and that’s unacceptable. So before anyone is signed and any changes happen that’s got to be looked at because it’s been farcical, really.”
Kevin Wimmer, Saido Berahino, — both of whom have either underperformed and, in Berainho’s case, been banished to the club’s U-23 side altogether — cost Stoke a combined $40 million, while former Real Madrid wonderkid Jese Rodriguez — on loan form Paris Saint-Germain — managed all of one goal in 13 PL appearances (8 starts) this season.
The “unwatchable” days of route-one soccer under Tony Pulis seem oh so far away now, don’t they?